Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile (center) arrives at the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City on Friday, July 11, to attend his arraignment on graft and plunder charges in connection with the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam. He faces one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft. (MNS photo)

Senate Minority Floor Leader Juan Ponce Enrile (center) arrives at the Sandiganbayan in Quezon City on Friday, July 11, to attend his arraignment on graft and plunder charges in connection with the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam. He faces one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Oct 7 (Mabuhay) – Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile, charged with graft and plunder in connection with the alleged pork barrel scam, has asked the Supreme Court to stop his suspension from office.

In a 47-page petition, Enrile asked the SC to issue a status quo ante order or a temporary restraining order against the suspension order issued by the Sandiganbayan Third Division last July.

Senate President Franklin Drilon implemented the the 90-day suspension two months later, on September 1.

Enrile, through his lawyers, asked the high court to “immediately upon filing of the petition for certiorari, issue ex-parte a status quo order, or a temporary restraining order, maintaining the status quo, and restraining the Sandiganbayan, or anyone acting on its behalf or pursuant to its directives, from suspending or continuing to suspend Enrile from office.”

Enrile said the injunction order should then be made permanent after due proceedings by the SC.

In his motion, the 90-year-old lawmaker insisted that he has yet to be convicted of any crime, and stressed that he should be enjoying his “full civil and political rights [being] the most senior member of the Senate, and, perhaps the entire Congress, who is also its Minority Leader, and therefore… an ex officio member of all permanent committees of the Senate.”

He said he would be unable to perform his duties in the Senate if he would remain suspended.

Enrile, who is on hospital arrest at the PNP General Hospital in Camp Crame, said the people who voted for him would “suffer great and irreparable injury, as they will be unfairly silenced in matters of national concern” if he would remain suspended.

Accused of pocketing millions of pesos from his pork barrel funds through bogus non-government organizations, Enrile also reiterated his camp’s earlier statement that he cannot be suspended by the Sandiganbayan under the doctrine of separation of powers.

“The constitutional grant of power to the legislature to discipline its own members is an affirmation of the objective of creating equal but independent branches of the government,” his petition read.

Based on its 19-page decision, the Sandiganbayan said Enrile was suspended from his position as senator and any other public office which he may be holding for a period of 90 days unless a motion for reconsideration is seasonably filed.

The court said placing Enrile under preventive suspension will neither violate his right to due process nor encroach on the power of Congress to discipline its members as claimed by the accused.

Last September 26, the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division granted Enrile’s motion to remain under hospital arrest.

Enrile is one of three senators facing graft and plunder charges over the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam. The others are Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Bong Revilla Jr.  (MNS)